07-03-2006, 04:53 PM
Join Date: May 2006
PRIDE Grand Prix: And Then There Were Four Anticipation was high as Pride's "Critical Countdown Absolute" event got underway. Dream Stage Entertainment, the parent company of Pride Fighting Championships, managed to put on another excellent production despite the recent setbacks caused by Fuji TVís cancellation of their television contract.
In the opening fight, Polish Judo legend Pawel Nastula finally got his first win in Pride. After losing his debut against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and a tough fight with Aleksander Emelianenko, Nastula defeated the debuting Edson Drago by armbar in the first round. Pawel punished Drago with accurate punches from the mount and was impressive in victory. The smile on his face was comparable to a child receiving a yearís supply of candy bars. This was a solid win for the Judoka, and hopefully fans will get the opportunity to see him fight again in Pride.
Yoshihiro Nakao made a successful transition from the K-1 Hero's promotion to Pride when he defeated Koreaís Lee Eun Su in the first round. With a new nickname of "Kiss" and his cornermen jokingly holding him back during the pre-fight staredown, the referee actually said, "No kissing." Once the serious business of the actual fight began, Nakao controlled the entire bout, using his superior wrestling skills and punishing the taller Korean with an array of punches and hammer fists. The end of the bout came when the doctors stopped the fight due to a massive hematoma under one of Su's eyes.
Vitor Belfort rebounded from his recent loss to Alistair Overeem by knocking out Pancrase veteran Yoshiki Takahashi in the first round Having fallen on hard times personally and professionally, Belfort gave his loyal fans a glimpse of the "old Vitor." Takahashi started the fight by throwing low kicks. The first time that the two fighters engaged, Belfort landed a left hook that dropped Takahashi into the corner of the ring. The ref immediately stepped in to stop the fight, and a sigh of relief could be felt amid Vitorís excitement. Though this was just a tune-up fight for Belfort, the victory was a confidence booster and a positive mark in Vitorís recently inconsistent career.
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